Most people think that the anklet is a modern jewelry trend. This is not the case—anklets have existed for hundreds of years and in cultures beyond modern times. Anklets exist in various countries across the world and have for a long time. To some cultures, anklets may be a standard piece of fashion while in others it may have symbolic meanings or cultural ties.
In modern times, women of Western Civilizations can be found sporting anklets casually and in a variety of styles. Usually, these anklets are adorned with some form of decoration and gemstone or charm.
They can be made cheaply from metals, plastic, or other materials, or can be an expensive and elaborate design made with gold or precious stones. For the most part, women of Western Civilizations wear anklets as a fashionable accessory and have only started doing so in modern times.
Anklets in other areas of the world date back centuries. The work “anklet” is Arabic and means ankle chain. More practically applied, an anklet is a chain or bracelet worn around the ankle. In Arabic and Egyptian culture, anklets are often worn even in modern times as a decorative part of dress. More casual wear means less elaborate anklets, but they are still a part of dress. Some have toe rings attached as a part of the bracelet. At one time in Arabic culture, the meaning “ankle chain” literally meant a small chain around both ankles to restrict the movement of the wearer, a part of the cultural practices. It is a practice still sometimes worn by traditionalists of the culture today. There are those that even have permanent anklets as a part of their attire in Arabic culture.
Anklets started appearing as a part of dress as early as the Bronze Age in Europe almost 4000 years ago. Bracelets made of bronze have been found in ruins of ancient civilizations, especially in areas around rivers in Europe. There are even stories in ancient lore concerning anklets – one involves a story of a woman whose husband was killed while trying to sell her anklets to a dishonest person. Anklets over time may have had their cultural associations shift, but they have always had some culture specific meaning attached, along with being made from one or another natural materials such as bronze, gold or leather. Anklets at one time may have been a signature of the wealth of the wearer, depending upon what they were made of and how elaborately designed they appeared to be.
Anklets are not pinpointed in their exact origin, other than that of the Bronze Age appearances. It is unknown if they existed prior to this time and were made from other materials that would have decomposed. Anklets have slowly spread from culture to culture as an adornment for women, though in some cultures men may wear them also. In some cultures the ankle on which an anklet is worn can have meaning, and more than one anklet may be worn at a time.